Business Travel Tips
Updated: Jan 30, 2019
It’s the old saying “Be Prepared” that is key when you are taking a business trip. This simple mandate should be applied across all areas of your trip from start to finish. Hope you find this information useful!
1. Pre Departure
Check your passport – make sure it hasn’t expired and be aware that some countries require you to have 6 months validity on your passport or you will not be allowed entry.
Make sure you have the appropriate visa in place for the country you are visiting.
Let your bank know you are travelling – nothing more embarrassing than your credit card being rejected at a client dinner because they think that it’s unauthorised or fraudulent usage.
Taking a picture on your phone of your passport, ID and itinerary can save heartache later if these things need replacing or you need to prove to customs you have a return flight and can’t locate your ticket.
Check the weather at your destination and pack appropriately.
Pre-book airport parking on-line – can save you up to 50% off the daily rate at some airports.
If travelling in the US apply for Global Entry or Pre-check programs. These allow pre-approved travellers to by-pass traditional security checks, which can save a lot of time, if done in advance.
2. Booking Your Flight
Book a Business Class seat wherever the budget allows. The benefits are huge. Leg room galore, room to comfortably use your laptop on the flight without impeding on someone else’s space, the ability to sleep on a flat bed and be rested for your first meeting. Priority check-in and priority customs queues are also available for the Business Class traveller. Don’t underestimate how important the lounge access is either – this allows you to work, rest, get a FOC (Free of charge) massage or eat a good meal before you board as we all know how scrumptious airline food can be.
If the budget doesn’t stretch to Business Class see if you can book a Premium Economy Seat – this usually sits in between Business and Economy for cost and you get many of the same benefits as the Business Class traveller.
Cheapest is rarely the best option for business travel. The cheapest flights are usually not direct and can have a number of stops along the route which can add up to 10 hours on a long haul trip with connections and wait time built in – this is precious billing time that can’t be recouped by saving a few dollars and you are unlikely to arrive rested at your destination.
Try and book a flight that gets you to your destination in the morning so you can go straight to your meetings as keeping busy keeps the jetlag at bay and don’t plan anything for the first night so that you can get a good night’s rest and catch up on sleep.
Use your points to upgrade if you can.
If you are travelling Economy and do not belong to a Loyalty Program, some airlines will allow you to purchase lounge access which can make the experience much more pleasant.
Leave enough time – NEVER assume the flight won’t be delayed. If you have an important meeting to attend fly out the night before if possible.
Pre-book your seat – avoid sitting near the galley and toilets – check out seatguru.com for help with this.
Check-in online to save time.
Using a good corporate travel agent may seem like a thing of the past but you don’t tend to pay more and they take the stress out of the booking process for you – well worth considering.
3. Luggage / Packing
Pack Once – Forever! Keep a set of essentials always packed in your carry on bag including toiletries, spare charger and cables. This way you may need to replenish on occasion but it will save you time if you always have this packed and ready to go.
Pack Light and NEVER check your bag in. This can save you up to an hour when you arrive at your destination and you don’t risk having your luggage go missing. Ensure you have the largest carry on bag allowed but be aware the sizes can differ from domestic to international so check before you leave.
Pack quick-dry, non-wrinkle clothes. Pack clothes of a similar colour and dress them up or down by adding accessories such as different coloured ties, scarves, tights or costume jewellery.
Plan on wearing slip on shoes when you are flying as they will save time at airport check points and also for easy for removal on the plane.
Wear your heaviest coat or jacket so it doesn’t weigh your bag down and also it will minimise it arriving creased and unwearable.
Packing a checkpoint friendly bag isn’t a bad idea either – it allows you to have everything you need to go through the checkpoint separately in one place, which is a time saver in itself.
4. Loyalty Programs / Frequent Flyer
Stick with one airline group if you can. The more points you get, the higher status you will be issued with and this leads to more upgrades, better service, quicker wait times i.e. priority baggage and check-in. With a smile on your face - always ask for an upgrade. It’s free to ask and you wont be any worse off if they can’t do it. You may actually be surprised what they will do for you (especially if you have a high status with them).
The same applies to Hotel groups. Even if you have booked a standard room when checking in ask for a room with a view – this will usually lead to an upgrade in room. The more points you get the more money you can save on future room nights and you often get extra perks like business lounge access, complimentary breakfast and late check out.
Pick a credit card that is linked to your loyalty program also – a quick way to help accumulate points.
As soon as you board set your watch to your destination time. Its important if you want to avoid jet lag to try and get into the destination time zone as soon as possible. Sleep if it is night time at your destination.
If you find yourself in an undesirable seat don’t be afraid to ask to be moved.
Ask for an extra pillow or blanket when you get on which can help you sleep more comfortably – they go quickly!
Keep hydrated, move around as much as you can to avoid things like DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and don’t overdo it on the food or alcoholic bevvies.
If you are wanting to sleep on the flight and it’s not a particularly long flight a good tip is to eat in the lounge before you board then you can advise the flight attendants you don’t want to eat and you can sleep straight away.
Make sure you have good disposable earplugs. Some people love the noise reducing super expensive headphones but how you can sleep with those on is beyond me. Buy some earplugs, just in case you aren’t given any and them along with a good eye mask and some herbal sleeping potions will allow you to, hopefully, get some rest (these are good for the Hotel too).
Many airlines allow you to connect to and use data when in-flight these days, sometimes for free and sometimes at a cost, it can be worth taking advantage of this so you can use the time you are sitting on the aircraft to work/prepare for your meetings.
Stick with the one Hotel Chain if you can so you take advantage of their loyalty program.
Plan on booking your accommodation closer to your meetings rather than the airport.
Book online for your hotel – it’s usually cheaper than going direct.
If required ask for late checkout/early check-in – it’s rare that they won’t do it for you.
Check out sites like Trip Advisor for room tips – you don’t want the room above the 24 hour nightclub!
When you arrive at your Hotel ask for a room with a view (regardless of what you have booked) this will usually ensure you get an upgrade or better standard of room.
When you enter your room, sit quietly and listen for traffic or an over-active air conditioning system. If the noise level bothers you I suggest you get them to move you immediately as the noise will be more noticeable when you are trying to sleep.
Take advantage of the Hotel amenities. The business lounge can be a good place to unwind or you can hold meetings there without having to pay for a meeting room and it is a great place to network. It’s also well worth trying to do some exercise if you can so use the pool or gym or go for a run – some hotels have a running concierge who will go with you at a pre-arranged time in the morning and it’s a chance to see the local sights.
7. Car Hire
Again, stay with the same hire car company and you can save up to an hour waiting in a queue to pick up a car – priority pick up is essential.
Check to see if the rental company covers toll roads.
Rent a car with the full tank of petrol option because we all know there is never enough time to get fuel on the way to the airport and you don’t want to risk not being able to locate a petrol station either.
Be mindful of the traffic rules for the country you are in; or in some cases, especially in Asia, be aware that traffic rules don’t actually seem to exist so be careful!
8. Travelling With Technology
You need to be able to communicate with your contacts when you are away and you need to be able to continue to work so the right technology that doesn’t cost you a fortune is a must. Bill Shock is to be avoided at all times!
You can’t always rely on being able to access WiFi so forward planning is necessary. Buying or renting a portable WiFi device like our roamingDATA one is a great solution. It enables you 24/7 access for a daily rate so you also get to control your costs. www.roamingdata.com.au .
Some Hotels will supply free WiFi but some charge a hefty rate so a portable WiFi device is often the better solution. It also means you aren’t relying on cafes, hotel lobbys and the airport to be able to conduct your business seamlessly.
A good data solution is a must. Some countries have low technology settings so be prepared that you may need to tether your devices to your portable WiFi device or your Phone. You don’t want to miss doing your presentation!
We all know that by switching your home country mobile phone to international roaming will mean incurring a huge phone bill. You have options. If you are travelling to multiple countries then a Roaming SIM may work for you. You have the same phone number across all countries and the rates are generally much cheaper than what your home network provider will charge you. www.roamingsim.com.au
If you are travelling to just the one country a Local Country SIM may suit you better. This will generally give you access to really cheap local rates for phone and data. Be mindful though that to call back to your home country you may be charged big bucks as you will be utilising that carrier’s international roaming rates.
It’s more important to ensure you have a data solution organised than a phone solution. With Whatsapp, Skype, Viber and FaceTime (all data based apps) you can stay in touch these days without needing to actually make a physical phone call.
Don’t forget to pack travel adaptors so you can keep your batteries charged.
A spare cable is also useful.
Using apps like google maps can churn through your data so downloading and saving maps you may need before you leave home can be useful.
Worth considering taking a spare phone for your Roaming SIM or Local Sim so you can still check your messages once a day on your normal mobile without having to take the SIM cards in and out all the time.
9. Cultural Tips
Know when to TIP! Tipping knowledge is mandatory – to tip too little can result in a most unpleasant experience and can be offensive. In the US its very important to tip as the majority of income for service workers comes from tips – 20% is a good guide.
Have some local currency to enable you to tip.
Always check bills to see if the service charge has already been applied.
In Asian countries a key for good tipping, especially if you are a repeat visitor, is to tip on arrival and let them know you expect good service and you will reward them for it. This applies to Hotels and Car Drivers in particular.
Know local rules around currency, alcohol, cigarettes and consumer goods.
Eat what’s offered to you, even just a small try can stop people being offended by your behaviour.
Don’t over indulge in alcohol – many cultures find this offensive.
Know the language! Key words such as Thank You, Please, Goodbye and Hello in their native tongue can really mean a lot to the locals.
10. Conclusion - Kindness
If you travel a lot you know it’s not the glamorous lifestyle many people think it is. Its tiring and just plain hard work. It’s really important not to take your grumpy mood out on the overworked hotel and airline staff. A smile, a nice word and some kindness will get you a long way – FAKE IT if you have to. Besides it just simply being the right thing to do, it’s these people who have the ability to upgrade you. It doesn’t cost you anything to be friendly but it can make the difference between a late checkout, a better room, a flight upgrade or it may just make you feel good knowing you have made someone else smile. Never underestimate the power of being nice!